The Nationals added to their list of Spring Training invitees on Monday afternoon as they signed Steven LeRud to a minor league deal, with an invite to Spring Training, according to William Ladson of MLB.com:
Last season, LeRud played in 60 games with the Gwinnett Braves, the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. He hit .250 with four home runs and 19 RBI’s. As far as throwing out runners go, he only threw out 22% of the runners that tried to steal bases on him, according to Baseball Reference. He played the second most games at catcher in Gwinnett behind Christian Bethancourt.
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This will be the fourth different organization that LeRud will be with since 2003, when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 3rd Round of that year’s draft. He has also been with the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies in addition to the Braves at this stage in his career.
The 30-year-old has made over 200 appearances in each of the past seasons, including with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in 2013 (Philadelphia Phillies’ AAA affiliate).
When you take a closer look at LeRud’s numbers, his .376 on-base percentage was fourth on the Gwinett Braves last season.
He does have some experience in the majors. During the 2012 and 2013 season, he played a combined total of nine games with the Phillies and hit .133.
More than likely, this is a move that the Nationals made to have depth at the AAA level at catcher for the Syracuse Chiefs. If you look at the Depth Chart on Roster Resource, only Sandy Leon is projected as a AAA catcher. With LeRud at 29 years old and Leon at 25, it at least provides the organization with a veteran catcher at the minor league level. Plus, it allows the switch-hitting Leon to play more against righties, considering he hit .195 against lefties in the minors last season.